Christianity in Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom's Cabin and Christianity

by Huqun
Instructor: Xiena

Class 01,Grade 2007,English Department(Business English) School of Foreign Languages
Wuhan University
March, 2011

Contents
Introduction………………………………………………………………1 1. Characters…………………………………………………………….. 1. Tom……………………………………………………………….. 2. Little Eva………………………………………………………….. 3. Sambo&Qimbo……………………………………………………. 4. Eliza……………………………………………………………….. 2. The Bible’s Influence………………………………………………….. 2.1 Introduction about the Bible……………………………………… 2.2 Reflections of Christianity in the Paper…………………………… 3. Tom &Christianity…………………………………………………….. Conclusion………………………………………………………………..

Abstract

With the application of the renowned Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye’s theory of archetype, the author in this thesis attempts to analyze various characters, such as Uncle Tom, little Eva, Sambo and Qimbo and some pious, ideal Christian mothers in Uncle Tom’s Cabin in terms of Biblical archetype, to reveal the Christianity in this novel, and to probe into Mrs. Stowe’s solution to the institution of slavery. She hopes this thesis will be of any help to Chinese readers to appreciate this classic novel in a new way.

Key Words: Biblical archetype character Christianity

摘要

本文作者采用加拿大著名文学批评家诺思洛普 弗莱的原型批评理论,从圣经原型的角度出发, 试图分析《汤姆叔叔的小屋》中的各类人物形象,比如汤姆叔叔、小伊娃、萨姆波和昆波以及几位虔诚的理想基督教徒母亲,以揭示这部小说中的宗教理念,并探讨斯托夫人解决奴隶制的办法。本文作者希望这篇论文对中国读者能从新的角度来欣赏这本经典著作有所帮助。

关键词:圣经原型 人物形象 基督教理念

Introduction
It’s commonly agreed that Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel. Yet, anti-slavery spirit is not contradictory or incompatible with spirit of Christianity. In fact, they co-exist quite harmoniously in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This thesis will mainly focus on Christianity in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and  attempt to analyze various characters, such as Uncle Tom, little Eva, and some pious, ideal Christian believers to reveal the Christianity in this novel. It is well known that western literature is based on two pillars--the Greek culture and the Hebrew culture. In the Hebrew culture, there is a book, namely, the Bible that accumulates its rich cultural heritage. Most western authors are influenced by those two literary origins consciously or unconsciously. They, without doubt, also influenced Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), a nineteenth century American female writer. Yet, with her strong religious background, she tended to be influenced deeper by the latter than by the former. Born into a family of religion, Harriet’s father, Lyman Beecher was one of America’s most celebrated clergymen and the principal spokesman for Calvinism in the nineteenth century; her mother, was a woman of prayer who died when Harriet was four years old; her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, was the best known pulpit orator of his times. In 1836, she was married to Calvin Stowe, a Biblical scholar. In a word, Harriet Beecher Stowe was bred, and lived all her life at the atmosphere of Christianity that inevitably influenced her masterpiece Uncle Tom’s Cabin.   In fact, all the characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin can be put into four categories: perfect Christians, imperfect Christians, half-Christians and non-Christians. Tom and Eva are those rare real Christians or perfect Christians who really live up to the principles of the Bible. Imperfect Christians include those like Mrs. Shelby and Miss Ophelia etc. They believe in God, but their selfishness or hypocrisy prevents them from being good Christians. For example, Mrs. Shelby rationalizes her actions by “gilding it over” with “kindness and care” (P.33). She is angry about her husband’s sale of Tom and Harris because she doesn’t know how she can ever hold up her head again among them (P.32). Miss Ophelia, though has missionary zeal, dares not to be tough to Topsy, the slave girl she is reforming for she still has the sense of white superiority at the bottom of her...
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